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With: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry, Mike O'Malley, Sigourney Weaver, Inga R. Wilson, Mike Birbiglia, Seth Morris
Written by: Phil Johnston
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, language and drug use
Running Time: 86
Date: 01/23/2011

Cedar Rapids (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt), Cedar Rapids has a grungy, low-budget feel, but in reality it's a perfect copy of the successful Animal House formula of 30 years ago: nerds cut loose, discover true selves, bring down hypocritical authority figures. The movie also uses its small town setting more to ridicule its characters than to say anything funny or insightful about small town life.

Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a small town insurance man. When his firm's star salesman unexpectedly dies, Tim is selected to go to a convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is expected to help his firm win the Two Diamond award for the fourth year in a row. Once there, Tim tries to do the right thing but falls in with a crowd of ne'er-do-wells, including party animal Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), flirty Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), and upright Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.); he begins to have a good time, but subsequently begins to discover greed, selfishness and corruption on all sides. Can Tim come to terms with this harsh reality check and rise above it?

But while there's nothing surprising about the story or plot, the characters are endearing and -- though not constantly funny -- they're at least consistently funny. The movie also has the benefit of adult-age characters, rather than teens. The movie never really takes this very far, and they may act like crazy college students, but in their quiet moments, these are grown-ups with grown-up problems (divorce, loneliness, unsatisfying marriages, etc.). Overall, Cedar Rapids has enough laughs and charm to insure a good time.

The Blu-Ray from Fox includes a few deleted scenes, a gag reel, trailers, a fake commercial for insurance, and a handful of featurettes, which range from ordinary to funny. The two-disc set also includes a DVD and a digital copy.

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